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Asana: A Modern Way to Improve Teamwork

Asana: A Modern Way to Improve Teamwork
    Asana's Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, both of Facebook fame.

    Working as part of a team and staying connected while doing so is a challenge, and there have been few (if any) easy and reasonably-priced software solutions that handle it well. Until today.

    Asana has left beta and is now available to the general public. And it has a lot to offer.

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    This web application keeps teams in sync with what is essentially a shared task list. Here everyone can capture, organize, track, and communicate what they are working on, all with the bigger picture in mind. Skipping email conversations (which is a terrible way to have conversations anyway) and countless meetings to keep a team on track, Asana lets its users move more efficiently and effectively.

    Oh, and Asana is free for teams consisting of 30 people or less. In addition, Asana can be used with as many of these teams as you want.

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    How Asana Works

    By making the task the center of attention in Asana, the way teams look at productivity shifts. The tasks are basically smaller pieces of a much larger set of goals and get assigned to team members and tracked to completion within the web app. Asana allows users to:

    • Capture everything your team is planning and doing in one place. No more jumping from app to app. Everything is collected and lives in Asana.
    • Keep team members in the know. By seeing who is working on what and when, there is a distinction between what is and isn’t important as well as how much more work has to be done to reach the much larger goal.
    • Stay informed. You’ll get essential updates on progress without having to search through old email threads.

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      Why Choose Asana?

      While we’ve yet to put it through the paces here at Stepcase Lifehack — we’ll be doing so over the next 30 days — Asana itself has suggested the following:

      • “It’s ridiculously fast. Thanks to in-house “Luna” technology, Asana is as responsive and lightweight as a text editor. Plus, by obsessively minimizing the number of clicks required to get things done, along with powerful keyboard shortcuts, Asana lets you manage your most important information with ease.”
      • “It’s versatile. Asana is one tool for many uses – from simple to-do lists, to complex projects, and more. It doesn’t force a single workflow, so you can mold it to your own processes and style.”
      • “It’s for the individual, too. Asana is the place to organize your own task list. In doing so, you automatically communicate what you’re prioritizing and everything you’ve done. By being the tool that individuals are using day in and day out, the team as a whole can trust it as the source of truth. We think Asana becomes the best group productivity tool by also being the best personal productivity tool.”

      But don’t just take the company’s word for it. The video below offers the thoughts of some of the early beta testers:

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      Asana may be a new player on a crowded landscape, but with co-founders including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and early Facebook employee Justin Rosenstein firmly behind it, this very well could be the web app that teams looking to improve their overall productivity have been searching for.

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      Mike Vardy

      A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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      Last Updated on October 15, 2019

      Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

      Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

      Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

      Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

      There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

      Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

      Why we procrastinate after all

      We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

      Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

      Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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      To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

      If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

      So, is procrastination bad?

      Yes it is.

      Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

      Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

      Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

      It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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      The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

      Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

      For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

      A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

      Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

      Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

      How bad procrastination can be

      Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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      After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

      One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

      That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

      Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

      In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

      You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

      More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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      8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

      Procrastination, a technical failure

      Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

      It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

      It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

      Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

      Reference

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